Hello world! I'm Mana, the oboist of the Magnard Ensemble. This is my first blog post ever, which is very exciting/daunting. What would people like to read about on a Sunday afternoon, I wonder? Probably not anything that I can provide!
First, what have we been up to this week - on Wednesday we've had our first rehearsal of 2016, which we're pleased to say was very productive! We've got a lot to get through in the next couple of months - a quintet concert in the Swiss Connections concerts series at the Swiss Church in London on 25th February, two Cavatina concerts this month, including one at Wigmore Hall on 30th January, and of course preparing for our grand Revolting Rhymes and Marvellous Music (RRMM) tour! We have also entered the mixed ensemble section of the prestigious Royal Overseas League Music Competition, which will take place at the beginning of March... Fingers crossed!
As this is my first post, I thought I might tell you a bit about myself. Don't worry I won't give you my life history but I'll start at the beginning ;p I'd like to tell you about how my life as an oboist began.
I grew up in Tokyo, Japan, which I think is one of the most amazing cities in the world. The mix of traditional and futuristic elements is fascinating and if you ever visit, you will have the best culinary experience there. It's not a bad place for classical music either as there are several state-of-the-art concert halls, hosting sell-out performances everyday. Young people are very involved too - pretty much every school, including state schools, has a wind band or an orchestra. That's how I started.
My school was home to one of the best school wind bands in Tokyo and I knew I wanted to join if possible. My mum played the clarinet as a schoolgirl so I requested to learn the clarinet as well. My music teacher, Mr. Hara (who had survived the Hiroshima nuclear bomb as a baby!) looked grave and said "well I'm afraid we've already got more than enough clarinets... But there is an "oboe" that's been sat on my shelf for the last 10 years... Maybe you can try it!!" That sounded a bit scary to me, mainly because I had no idea what to expect. My mum however was ecstatic - she loves the Bach violin and oboe double concerto...!
But how thankful I am that it turned out this way. From the moment I first tried the oboe, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and at the age of 10, that's a pretty big decision! Frankly, the oboe is the best instrument in the orchestra in my opinion and I've never yet fallen out of love with it. Even when I've had no decent reeds in my box and had to learn some hideous study from the famous Gillet book...
This is why I take music education very seriously. Without music, I don't know where I would be today. Even if one doesn't choose a musician's life, music enriches you and, well, generally makes you feel alive! I'm a good example of how music can change your life - I moved to the other side of the world at the age of 13 because of the oboe. I hope I'm helping even a little bit towards enriching someone's life through the work I do with the Magnard Ensemble and everywhere else I go, because that poor old oboe on Mr Hara's shelf was my miracle and I must pay back through the only way I know - playing the oboe!
I hope you will come and join us soon to help me achieve my aim! ;)
Love, Mana xxx
PS I promise I'll share a hilarious photo of myself playing the oboe at the age of 12 this April when I go back to Japan for a visit.